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Ahmadinejad takes over Iranian official news agency

01/19/11 Source: Radio Zamaneh

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "promoted" the official news agency of the Islamic Republic (IRNA) to a sub-organization of the president's office, thus increasing its budget and preparing it for "history-making media battle on an international level."

In a meeting today with IRNA managing director and heads of its branches, Ahmadinejad maintained that IRNA is to hire as many reporters as it requires to avail itself of reporters "with fluency in 10 to 12 world languages because the message of the people of Iran cannot be transmitted to the world always in Persian."

In August, Iran had announced that the government's information council had prepared a proposal to merge the information council with the media branch of the ministry of culture, the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA), Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iranian institute including Iran newspaper and magazines, the information office of the president's office and the supervisory board of Iran national television (Seda va Sima) in order to create one government body run by the president's office.

Critics denounced the move saying it increased the authority of Esfandiar Rahim Mashaii, the president's chief of staff, and the president's office in general.

Earlier IRNA was supposed to be opened to the private sector in accordance with the Article 44 of the constitution but the managing director appealed to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who announced that IRNA would remain a government organization.

IRNA, Iran's first news agency, began as Pars News Agency in 1925 inside Iranian foreign ministry and in 1954, it was transferred to the ministry of information and tourism.

After the 1979 Revolution in Iran, Pars News Agency went under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and its name was changed to Islamic Republic News Agency with Iran newspaper as one of its off-shoots.

IRNA has 60 offices in Iran and 30 more in various countries around the world.

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